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Austrian Finance Minister Supports Liechtenstein Over Banking Secrecy

Ulrika Lomas, Tax-news.com, Brussels

16 November 2000


Discussions focusing on Liechtenstein's efforts to be removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) list of money laundering hotspots took place last week in Vienna between Austrian Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser and a Liechtenstein delegation including Ambassador Maria-Pia Kothbauer, Princess of Liechtenstein, and Deputy Head of the revenue authorities Klaus TschYtscher. The delegation was led by Head of Government Mario Frick.

During the talks both countries showed that they shared similar attitudes towards the issue of banking secrecy and the mini-summit concluded with the Austrians offering their support to Liechtenstein. The Austrian Finance Minister pointed out that this issue was related to private life and should not be confused with the taxation of interest at the level of the European Union.

It is likely that the discussions were also dominated by Liechtenstein's ratification of anti-money laundering measures, the related documentation having been lodged with the European Council the day before by Foreign Minister Andrea Willi. The document confirms the agreements reached on money laundering, investigation, seizure attachment and confiscation of assets from criminal activities.

In the document, submitted to the Ministerial Committee of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Liechtenstein declared the establishment of the internal legal foundations necessary for the implementation of the European Council Agreement, including the total revision of the law on legal assistance, the reform of the penal code and the code of criminal procedure. Ms Willi stated in the local newspaper "Liechtensteiner Vaterland" that the ratification document confirms the political determination of Liechtenstein to comply with international standards in the fight against money laundering and also to co-operate with other countries.

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